Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to All

I'm finally addressing my holiday cards and with any luck will mail them tomorrow! Yay!  I usually make my cards, but circumstances conspired against me this year, and I waited to the last minute to order cards. The photo is mine and is titled "Hydrangea," which while accurate is hardly original. So kind readers - here is the card even before it's mailed - for you.

Wishing you and yours the Happiest of Holidays and a 2010 filled with joy, health, and prosperity.

From Qwill and the small humans.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The First BIG Storm of the Season - for DC

It snowed last night into this morning. We got about 10 inches of very powdery snow. It's not the best snow for building snowmen or making snowballs, but it is easy to shovel!  One of the local stations names the big snow storms. This year they are being named after famous scientists. So without further ado, the photos of the snow from Winter Storm Albert:

Still snowing early this morning

One of our intrepid plows

The front yard

My large perennial garden

Cone flowers wearing winter white hats

A little panorama looking up and down my street
(click on it to see it larger)

The small humans

So that's it for Albert. Next up is Barbara which will be named for Barbara McClintock who won a Nobel Prize in 1983 for her work in the field of genetics.

Qwill's Qwestion: Did you get snow from Albert? or What is your weather like?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Holiday Shopping or I'd Rather Have a Root Canal or How to Save Yourself by Shopping at Cemetery Cat Designs

I'm not overfond of holiday shopping. I don't like the crowds. I don't like the feeling of desperation that seems to emanate from nearly everyone around me. So in order not to torture myself (or anyone else), if I can't get it online, I generally won't get it. I recently had one of the best holiday shopping experiences I've ever had. Let me explain.

This year I was looking for something special and unique for my teen daughter. She's a Twihard (sigh) but also has the good taste to love the Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead. I know that Synde Korman of Cemetery Cat Designs makes limited edition jewelry inspired by Vampire Academy in addition to other beautiful jewelry. Luckily for me Synde also makes custom items as well. My daughter's favorite Vampire Academy character is Dimitri Belikov. I contacted Synde with this information, and she started designing a necklace for my daughter. We discussed materials and agreed on a price. I was also asked my daughter's size so that the necklace would be the appropriate length.  When it was ready Synde sent me the photo below:

Wow! Synde shipped it out, and I received it in perfect shape a couple of days later. I was so excited that I could not wait to give it to my daughter. My daughter CRIED! She hugged me... a lot. I cried. She absolutely loves her necklace. I love that with the help of Synde I've been able to give my daughter a unique and lasting work of art. It is absolutely stunning.

I'm a real fan of Cemetery Cat Designs! As a matter of fact I need to have Synde make something for my son. He saw his sister's necklace and was so wowed that he would like something unique for himself. He's already given me a couple of ideas.

Here's the link for Cemetery Cat Designs: 

Take a look!!

[Just so you know - I have absolutely no link to Cemetery Cat Designs other than being a very happy customer.]

Qwill's Qwestion: What would like for the holidays?

Monday, November 30, 2009

And the books go to...

colleen m was picked for Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler


AYates was picked for Soulless by Gail Carriger.

We used a random number generator this time. It's more fun picking names out of a hat!

Please send your snail mail addresses to TheQwillery aht gmail daht com. (I'm guessing that you know how to fix this!)

Thanks to everyone for commenting. I'll be posting about some more books that I really liked and will be giving away soon.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Two Books That I Really Like - Soulless by Gail Carriger and Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler

Recently I had the pleasure of reading two books that I really enjoyed, thought were very well written, and would recommend without reservation. I'm so enamored with these 2 books that I will be giving away a copy of each: one commenter will be picked for Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler and one commenter will be picked for Soulless by Gail Carriger.

You may ask, why did Qwill like these books so much? Okay, you might not ask but I'm going to tell you anyway. First, both books are unusual. Second, both books are beautifully written with the authors displaying a command of the English language that I find admirable. Third, the world building was very well done. Fourth, the main character in each book, both females, appealed to me. Fifth, the books satisfied me even though both left lingering questions. (Gail - what's up with the octopi? Nicole - I hope we get more of the back story for the dog.)

I'm not going to delve deeply into plot, characters, or machinations because I am not writing full reviews of the books and I do not want to spoil even a bit of the stories.

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate 1)
by Gail Carriger

Soulless is the 1st book in the Parasol Protectorate series. Soulless is a steampunky comedy of manners with werewolves and vampires and more set in Victorian London. Oh my. The leading lady, Alexia Tarabotti, does not give in to the confines of Victorian England, which leads to some humouros and dangerous situations. Miss Tarabotti a preternatural - no soul. Her preternatural ability negates those of the supernatural. Let's just say that there is something mysterious afoot. Steep a cup of your favorite tea, get comfy, and enjoy a great read.

Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate 2) will be released in March 2010.

Gail Carriger's website is here.

Tempest Rising (The Jane True Series 1)
by Nicole Peeler

Tempest Rising is the first book in the Jane True Series. Jane is not your typical Urban Fantasy heroine. She's much more accessible in my opinion. She's also half-Selkie! Tempest Rising is set in Rockabill, Maine, where Jane has grown up under difficult circumstances the root of which are slowly revealed in the novel. There are quite a few unusual paranormal beings in this book plus several of the more common. I enjoyed reading about Jane and the denizens seen and unseen in Rockabill. This is a book that you can really dive into!

Tracking the Tempest (The Jane True Series 2) will be released in July 2010.

Nicole Peeler's website is here.

Qwill's Qwestion: What were some of your favorite books for 2009? [Leave a comment by midnight November 29, 2009; I'll let you know who gets the books on November 30, 2009]

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween 2009

Halloween 2009 was a very rushed affair at The Qwillery. I usually have the decorations up the week before. Due to some things that happened over the last week I was only able to decorate on Halloween. I didn't even buy pumpkins until 3:30 Halloween afternoon.

I purchased extra candy because it was a Saturday night. Unfortunately it rained so I've lots of leftover candy. The Almond Joys and Malted Milk Balls are mine!

My favorite decoration is Dead Fred. His head lights up. I also put a strobe at his feet to make him a bit more creepy. I may add a fog machine and some friends for him next year.

The small humans dressed up as a Gothic Vampire and a Blind Phantom (you can see the red glimmer of the Phantom's heart).

Pumpkin carving was a rushed affair, but I think that they came out fine. The Vampire carved a Vampire pumpkin. The Phantom carved a creepy smile on his pumpkin.

This year I carved the Decepticon symbol (Transformers) at the request of the Blind Phantom, though since he was blind I'm not sure how he knew that I'd carved the correct symbol.

All in all we had a pretty good Halloween. I'm hoping that next year, it will be less hectic!

Qwill's Qwestion: How was your Halloween?

Monday, October 19, 2009

And the winners are....

The next series of books that I will be reading is the Psy-Changelings series by Nalini Singh. Here are the top 3 vote getters:

1 - Nalini Singh's Psy-Changelings series 11 (25%)

2 - Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed series 6 (13%)

3 - Madelyn Alt's Bewitching Mystery series 5 (11%)
3 - Lilith Saintcrow's Dante Valentine series 5 (11%)

And the reader whose TBR will soon include the 5 books by Caitlin Kittredge is ....

Layla Messner

Please DM me at Twitter with your shipping information so that I can get the books out to you this week!

The Nocturne City series presently consists of 4 books, Night Life, Pure Blood, Second Skin, and Witch Craft. Demon's Mark, Book 5, will be published in May 2010. Street Magic is the first book in the Black London Novels. Book 2, Demon Bound, will be published in December 2009 so you don't have long to wait.

Thank you to everyone who voted and commented. We'll have to do this again!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Beware the Ides of October (for DC)

It's October 15. It's snowing. It's a bit early, but I love snow so I'm ok with this. Not that I have a choice of course.

The front lawn is solid white now. It's lovely, especially because it's not sticking to the road or driveway. I think that Winter is giving us a preview of the upcoming main attraction. I can't wait.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What should I read next?

Update: I can't possibly give away just the first 2 books in a series. So.... one lucky commenter will receive Books 1 - 4 of Caitlin Kittredge's Nocturne City series AND the first novel in her Black London series. So that's Night Life, Pure Blood, Second Skin, and Witch Craft from the Nocturne City series and Street Magic from the Black London series.

So I've organized my TBR pile into a TBR bookcase. The anthologies are still in a box. The rest of the hardcovers still need to placed on the bottom shelf because that's where they fit and they will anchor the bookcase. The paperbacks are 3 rows deep so quite a few books fit in this bookcase.

Now that everything is organized, I don't know what to read next. Over on the right of the page is a poll where you can vote to help me decide. I'll read the series that gets the most votes.

In the comments tell me why you voted for a particular series. Or just leave a comment about anything book or TBR related.

I also found duplicates of two books. Only 2 books - it's a miracle! So if you comment I'll put your name on a slip of paper and then in a hat or jar or some other receptacle. One of the small humans will reach in and pull out a name and one lucky commenter will receive the first two Nocturne City books by Caitlin Kittredge: Night Life and Pure Blood. I will ship them internationally, but probably by slow boat. The poll is open until next Sunday. The person who gets the books will be announced on Monday, October, 19, 2009. This is not a contest. It's just a way for me to send 2 extra books to a new home.

Thanks for helping me decide!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It rained

It's been raining an awful lot here this spring and summer. I could complain, but instead I shoot... photographs.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ruby-throated Hummingbird and More Coneflowers

Here are a few pictures of a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are very territorial and will chase off other hummingbirds and insects that are competing with them for food. In the 4th photo she's incoming to chase off an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. The red flower in the photos is Monarda, commonly known as Bee Balm.

More Echinacea taken with my DSLR. You can see more detail in the cones in these pictures.

This is a Helenium 'Mardi Gras'. It's a spectacular long-blooming plant that looks really nice with the Echinacea.

Hope that you enjoy the photos!

Coneflowers From My Garden

It's Coneflower Day here at The Qwillery. These are photos taken yesterday of some of the Coneflowers (Echinacea) in my large Perennial Garden. Enjoy.